A pair of Tom turkeys in the woods by the Tensas River in northeastern Louisiana.
December 1st, 2019. Two of Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge’s Tom Turkeys (Meleagris galloparvo) near the Quebec Road. They’re in fine shape after thanksgiving holiday, thanks to them living in the wildlife refuge and their hunting season isn’t until next Spring!

Sunday Dec. 1st was bright and sunny here for our outing, but the air was chill and it took us a while to warm up when back in the car. There was quite a breeze. Vultures were wheeling and flapping about dramatically near the Hollow Cypress Trail boardwalk.

The highlight of the day though was an encounter with a flock of seven wild turkeys.

Their heads are a lovely blue color and their faces full of character, when seen through the telephoto or binoculars they can look very dinosaurian indeed!

One of the sights that fills Kimmie and I with fresh excitement every time is a flock of ‘Gobblers’. It doesn’t matter what else might have happened that day, but if we see a wild turkey flock it’s been a fine excursion!

Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge is a good place to see wild turkeys. We often see them from the Quebec Road on the way to the Visitors’ Center either crossing the road, feeding beside it or even sometimes roosting up in the tall trees by the river. That’s the turkeys doing that, not us.

We also saw a high skein of geese flying south from the I20 and saw murmurations of starlings and grackles, some very large, over the fields. It’s fair to say that before 8 am we had already seen hundreds of birds. The ones that flew by our car window resembled aerial fish when caught between flaps!

On our return through the farmland to highway 80 we saw mixed flocks of European Starlings, Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds wheeling about dramatically, resembling a shoal of fish between pulses of wing-beats, also Killdeer plovers and Yellowlegs feeding in the damp fields. Despite it being December, from the bridge over the I20 we saw a medium-sized American alligator cruising slowly in a farm pond.

Some European starlings, male and female Cowbirds and female Red-winged blackbirds look more like fish than birds between wing-flaps!

Another great day out! We have so much wildlife to give our thanks for, even in winter time! Look out for birds flocking in murmurations near you.

Learning Opportunities, Citizen Science

If you’re interested in learning more about birds consider registering an account with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This will allow you to access the online courses that they offer.

Using the same login name and password, you can participate in any of the following projects:

Bird Academy — https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/
Birds of North America — http://birdsna.org/
Celebrate Urban Birds — https://celebrateurbanbirds.org/
eBird — https://ebird.org/
Great Backyard Bird Count — http://gbbc.birdcount.org/
Project FeederWatch — https://feederwatch.org/
NestWatch — https://nestwatch.org/
Macaulay Library — https://www.macaulaylibrary.org/

Happy birding!

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